It’s hard to remember the last time the New England Patriots have had this much cap space heading into an offseason. They’re currently sitting at $57.3M in Cap Space, and have a lot of money available to make some moves. There are a lot of options here in Free Agency, especially on the offensive side of the field. This is where the Patriots need to capitalize.
Although the draft features a stacked Wide Receiver class with top tier Quarterback prospects in the first two rounds, Bill Belichick has had much better success when it comes to drafting the defensive side. Think about who the team has drafted in the Belichick era, who are the best picks? Defense and Offensive Line. Bill knows how to draft and build up these positions. Everyone Else? Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett, Damien Harris, James White, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez. That’s it. Great players, but that’s 20 years worth of offensive skill players, none of whom were drafted in the first round and very few who came out of the second.
Regardless of the draft, New England needs to change the QB room in 2021 and I believe the need is a veteran Quarterback. There are great receiver options and strong Tight End options in this FA class. Basically, the Patriots need to spend on where they struggle to draft. We’re gonna break down the “dreamville” options and the realistic, more obtainable options. I can’t stress enough how important this year’s free agency class is for New England. The team needs to spend their money and acquire more talent.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson:
There really is no explanation needed. This would be the greatest Boston acquisition of all time. Watson is easily a top-5 QB in the league and that is on one of the most incompetent franchises ever created. It is big big longshot as other NFL teams have more draft capital for Houston and of course, Nick Caserio. Let’s dream for a sec: I would offer Three 1st rounders, a 2nd, Stephon Gilmore, and Joe Thuney for him. Yes I would. Whatever happens to Deshaun, he cannot go to the New York Jets or Miami Dolphins; it would haunt New England forever.
Wide Receiver Chris Godwin:
Godwin has been getting lit up on twitter for his costly drops in the playoffs so far, but we know that this is not who Chris Godwin really is as a football player. There’s a reason why Tom Brady loves Godwin. He screams Patriot, his ability to make tough catches in the middle of the field and thrive on the short-to-intermediate passing, Godwin is a dream WR1 in New England, but Tampa will most likely re-sign Brady’s favorite target.
Wide Receiver Allen Robinson:
Robinson is more of a dreamville candidate because of his price. It would not shock me if New England breaks the bank for this guy. He’s one of the best receivers in the league with terrible Quarterback play and the man simply does not drop the football. But in the end, it is hard to see Belichick spending $20 million on one player, not with the roster gaps this team has.
Tight End Hunter Henry:
By now, we have all heard how Bill Belichick feels about Hunter Henry and for good reason. He is everything New England looks for at the Tight End position in terms of receiving, size, and blocking ability. But like the rest here, Henry will simply cost too much.
Linebacker Lavonte David
The Bucs have a lot of free agents to re-sign this offseason and god I hope David slips from their eyes. He is one of the best linebackers in the league and no one wants to talk about him. He’s getting up there in age, but he would fit great with Hightower who needs to come back please.
Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller, Zach Ertz, Odell Beckham Jr.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo
BRING HIM BACK BABY. I know people will bring up the injuries and how San Fran doesn’t believe in him anymore, but let’s not act like there will be great options falling out the sky. Garoppolo gives New England the best chance at building a playoff roster. Despite the very real injury concern, I believe in Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s a great fit for what this team needs offensively; someone who can get the ball out quick and hit guys in the middle of the field to go make plays after the catch.
Wide Receiver Corey Davis
Here is where I can see New England spending their money. Corey Davis is essentially what the Patriots have wanted in N’Keal Harry . Davis is really starting to flourish into a reliable wide receiver on a run first team. I think the Titans is another offense New England should design their rebuild around. Davis excels in contested areas and is coming off his best year, hauling in 65 catches for 984 yards and 5 TDs in 14 games, listing at one of PFF’s highest graded wide receivers of 2020.
Wide Receiver Curtis Samuel
Curtis Samuel is another young receiver coming off a career year who may not command top of the market value at the wide receiver position. With Robby Anderson and DJ Moore thriving, Carolina may not make re-signing Samuel a priority. Samuel would add a versatility that this offense desperately lacks. He thrives with his speed, but also can be used in the running game (200 yards, 2TDs in 2020). He may not be a #1 receiver, but pairing him with a guy like Davis could give defenses serious problems in coverage. Some Patriots fans want Bill to draft human joysticks such as Kadarius Toney or Rondale Moore in the first round, but why not sign a proven player with the same style and have one less player to try to draft and build up?
Tight End Jonnu Smith
Smith is one of my favorite Tight Ends in the league and Bill Belichick is a fan of his as well. He brings a great ability after the catch while holding his own in the blocking game. I had an epiphany after the San Fran loss this season that NFL offenses need to create guys like the “YAC bros”. Jonnu Smith is a YAC bro. I’m not willing to wait on Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene while guys are available. Smith would start instantly, become a threat to opposing defenses, and more importantly, come at an affordable price.
Linebackers Denzel Perryman and Neville Hewitt
Even if Dont’a Hightower comes back, this linebacker group needs serious improvement. One of the biggest issues the Patriots faced in 2020 was an inability to stop the run. Signing either Perryman or Hewitt would be similar to when New England signed Adrian Phillips last year: A solid veteran player (~28 years old) who brings starter capability at an affordable price. Hewitt stepped up for New York, tallying 134 tackles and 2 sacks while Perryman earned a PFF grade of 86.3 against the run and 74.1 in coverage both being the best of his career.
QB: Marcus Mariota, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Gardener Minshew, Jacoby Brissett, Tyrod Taylor, Cam Newton (yes ik)
HB: Marlon Mack
WR: Marvin Jones, Breshad Perriman, Tim Patrick
LB: K.J. Wright, Melvin Ingram, Ryan Kerrigan, Jeremiah Attaochu
DL: Derek Wolfe, Soloman Thomas, Larry Ogunjobi
Here’s what New England’s starting lineup could look like in 2021 just based off of Free Agent signings:
QB – Jimmy Garoppolo
RB – Damien Harris
RB – Sony Michel
RB – James White
WR – Corey Davis
WR – Curtis Samuel/Marvin Jones
WR – Julian Edelman
WR – Jakobi Meyers
TE – Jonnu Smith
TE – Devin Asiasi
TE – Matt LaCosse
OLB – Josh Uche
MLB – Denzel Perryman
MLB – Neville Hewitt
OLB – Jeremiah Attaochu
DE – Wino
DL – Lawrence Guy
DL – Larry Ogunjobi/Adam Butler
DE – Soloman Thomas/Uche/Attaochu
And so it begins…